November 06, 2013 —

We worry about our children. We do everything in our power to protect them from the dangers of the world and we work tirelessly to ensure their well-being. With all of the heart and time that goes into raising our kids, it’s scary to think that what we use to make them feel better can also be abused and cause them harm when they are teens.

As a mom and a school nurse, I understand the importance of keeping medicines on-hand, especially during cold and flu season when germs are running rampant. But I also know how critical it is to make sure that we safeguard medicines after each use. There are no exceptions here. We can’t leave medicine on the nightstand, conveniently placed for next middle-of-the-night dose. And we shouldn’t just leave it in the bathroom to be forgotten until the next cold comes along. We’ve got to be smarter than that, because many of the medicines that combat colds and the flu are the same substances that are abused by teens. In fact, more than 100 over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines contain the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM), which one in 20 teens abuses to get high. You can find a list of products containing DXM here.

It may be worrisome, but we aren’t helpless in the fight against medicine abuse. There are measures we can take to keep our teens healthy and safe. Here are three easy steps to safeguarding your family’s medicine this season and throughout the year:

  1. Secure and safely store your medicines. Consider storing medicines that could potentially be abused by your teen in a place that only you know about.
  2. Monitor your medicines and take periodic inventory. Keep track of what you have and how much you have, so you will know if anything is missing. Discard of expired and unused medicines when your teen is not home.
  3. Talk to the parents of your teen’s friends. Talk to them about teenage cough medicine abuse and encourage them to safeguard their medicines as well.

We may not be able to protect our teens from broken hearts or broken bones, but we do have the power to deter medicine abuse by securing and monitoring our medicines. How do you safeguard your medicines? Share your tips with us in the comments below!